Mummy's Garam Masala

My mother is a great cook and makes almost everything from scratch at home. That includes making festival specials like puran poli, chakali, chirote, chivda, karanji. It also includes making yearly supply of Garam Masala and Mixed Chutney Masala which is also known as Kanda Lasun Masala in Maharashtra. She has her list of ingredients that she has inherited from her mom and her mom-in-law. Both my grandmothers were excellent cooks and mummy tells me both shared various cooking tips with her. She combined both the lists and made her own proportions per her taste and started making her own variety many many years ago.

She makes this masala just after Diwali when the weather is a bit cold.  She had her own sewing business so she would be very busy with sewing orders before Diwali. But she had some time to spare after Diwali so she would plan to make the masala then. That habit continued even after she stopped her business. She starts out with the list of ingredients and goes to shop around afternoon when there is less rush in the store so she gets to see each and every ingredient and pick the best quality. Then she visits a chili shop, looks for different varieties of chilies. She usually buys bright red Byadagi chili. One of my uncle has a farm and they grow chilies every year. She receives red chili powder of home grown chilies from him every year. Mummy uses this chili powder to make Kanda Lasun Masala.

She dries the chilies thoroughly for a couple of days in sun and then removes stems. Then she takes the chilies to nearby chutney kandap(pounding) machine. She is allergic to the chili powder particles so it was my job to get it done when I was home. Then she picks over all the spices, removes all the impurities. She keeps all the cleaned spices in the sun for a day and then in the evening starts roasting one by one with a little oil. Once all the masalas are roasted, she grinds them one by one. The order of grinding the spices is very important as some spices are very oily and makes the grinder sticky. Once the masala powder is done her work for the day is over. She usually makes simple khichadi for dinner or serves leftovers from the morning. She still has a big day ahead of her to make mixed masala chutney.

Next day starts with chopping several kilos of onion, skinning a large quantity of garlic and then grating dry coconut. She cooks chopped onion in oil for hours on a low flame stirring occasionally. It's cooked so much that it actually caramelizes. Meanwhile she dry roasts grated coconut, grinds it. Also grinds garlic. When onion is cooked well and cooled down completely, the she grinds that too. The last step is to mix proportions of red chili powder, fresh garam masala, onion paste, garlic paste, coconut and salt together in food processor and then by hand. Mix well.

It is very labor intensive job and there are various stores that carry this masala in the town but she prefers to make it by herself every year. She keeps one full bottle full for me and another one for my sister-in-law. She also keeps her special Garam Masala supply for both of us. I used to help her in making this when I was in India and now my sis-in-law helps her. She thoroughly enjoys making it and we all enjoy eating it every day for a year. This is the only masala she uses for her day today cooking! I store masala bottle in freezer all the time and use in all the Maharashtrian recipes like Kolhapuri Misal, Dal Methi Bhaji, Kanda Batata Rassa.
I will share Kanda Lasun Masala proportions and recipe in few weeks. Here are her proportions of masala that is main ingredient of that -

All Spices

1/2 kg Dry Coriander Seeds
1/4 kg Cumin Seeds
1/4 cup Mustard Seeds (about 50gm)
10 gm Shaha Jire
10 gm Badi Elaichi
10 gm Choti Elaichi / Cardamom
20 gm Bay Leaves
20 gm Cloves
20 gm Black Pepper
20 gm Cinnamon (Or Cassia Bark)
20 gm Dried Ginger
20 gm Nakeshwar
20 gm Sesame Seeds
20 gm Poppy Seeds
125 gm Dried Coconut
25 gm Fenugreek Seeds
10 gm Dagadphul / Lichen
10 gm Rampatri (Optional)
10 gm Jaypatri / Mace (Optional)
10 gm Tirfal (Optional)
15-20 Dried Red Chilies (Medium Hot)
125 gm Salt
4-5 Small dried Turmeric Roots (or 2-3 tbsp Turmeric Powder)
2-3 tsp Hing
1 Nutmeg

Plate full of Ingredients

Preparation -
Grate coconut and dry roast. Keep aside.
Roast sesame seeds and poppy seeds separately and keep aside.
Now roast all the spices one by one using just few drops of oil.
Keep the chunkey spices separately.
Let the spices cool down thoroughly.
Grind all the large spices first, sift through medium sieve.
Then grind cumin, mustard and coriander seeds. Sift through same sieve.
Lastly grind coconut and sesame seeds and poppy seeds separately.
Using food processor mix everything well and then add salt.


Tips - 
  • * Nagkeshar called Mesuain English.
  • If you are using turmeric powder then add it when mixing powdered spices.
  • Lightly roast cumin seeds.
Jaya, this is for August 2011's Back to Basics event of masalas/spice powders.

* Thank you Snigdha. 


    1. Looks delightfully complex. There is no way I can replicate all those wonderful flavors, but thanks much for preserving and sharing not just the recipe, but also the memories!

    2. Excellent presentation!
      I can smell the aroma here in Mumbai! :-)

    3. Mints, loved reading about your mom. You really transported me there. And thank you very much for sharing this recipe-- as someone who's been lucky enough to have had the real thing, this is a huge treat!

    4. Mints, thank you for sending your mom's precious recipe. This post reminded me of my mom making her garam masala and dhana-jeera powder once a year. It was pretty much the same scene in our house too with khichdi for dinner and everyone helping out with roasting and grinding.
      My mom's garam masala, as far as I can remember, does not have any coconut or khus-khus in it. But then that is what makes each masala special, doesn't it? Looking forward to your kanda-lasoon masala.

    5. hi Mints (using ur profile mane as i dont knw u in person)
      Nagkeshar is calles as 'Mesua' in english coz its botanical name is 'Mesua ferrea'
      i mean dats wht we ayurvdic ppl call it,bt i dont knw if it s available in super market wid dat name.
      hope this helps

    6. Prathibha - welcome here.

      ET, Abhijit - thank you.

      Vaishali, I am glad you enjoyed the recipe.

      Jaya, thank you.

      Snigdha - thank you.

    7. Loved reading how your mom made the masala. Labor intense indeed. Looks like she uses all the spices availble in India to make her garam masala. My mom makes them but with very few ingredients.
      Looks very very aromatic!

    8. Mints- what a great post! You totally brought the whole process to life- I could smell the aroma and the excitement of the masala making process and remember similar days in my mother's home.

    9. I was looking for an authentic Kolhapuri Kanda Lasun Masala and chanced by your page. I do not know when you posted the recipe for Mummy's Garam Masala, in which you have hinted that you will post the recipe for kanda lasun masala. Have you thereafter posted it?
      Secondly, the photograph of the masala ingredients look different from the ones listed, and the proportions also are different. Is that so?
      But thanks for preserving the cultural heritage of your hometown and spreading it to the interested. Well done, Keep it up!!

      1. Anon, no I have not posted the Kanda Lasun Masala yet. Hope to post it soon.

        Masalas in picture are the same ones used but proportions are different as I just wanted to demonstrate material.

        Thank you for visiting.

    10. is this is goda masala?

      1. No this is not Goda Masala. This has more spices than typically used in Goda Masala.


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